Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Corn Maze

I've received several requests for a rerun of this post which originated during the first week of this blog's existence. Originally a column, it explores an aspect of fall that sends shivers down my spine. Read why.... 

                                       The Corn Maze

Tomorrow is the first day of fall. 

With it comes warm, golden days and cool, refreshing nights, flaming maples--their scarlet leaves bright against the deep blue skies of the season and gleaming pyramids of rosy, locally grown apples for sale at outdoor markets.

There will be hay bales and mums adorning our front steps as well as the rumble of yellow school buses carrying eager youngsters back to class. 

And corn mazes.
I harbor certain fears in life -- terrorism, airplanes, dental drills, any old movie with Tony Randall….and corn mazes.

Signs advertising their whereabouts start popping up about now. Often rustically hand-lettered on cardboard, they line the sides of local roads. I avert my eyes and step heavily on the gas.

Who came up with this madness?

A sadistic farmer with bodies already buried under the barn but who’d lost his spark for procuring fresh victims, perhaps. “Yes, I will trap hapless souls by ensnaring them in a maze of towering corn! And I shall charge them a fee for it--woo hoo!"
Long ago, when I was a very Brooklyn-ized young lady and the only indications of a change of season were the new displays in Hallmark store windows, my idea of a lovely fall excursion meant a subway trip across the Manhattan Bridge to a museum. 

One crisp day I was invited, by an equally Brooklyn-ized young man named Anthony (I only dated guys named Anthony—it was a strict rule) with a penchant for high-waisted  pants,  to “go the country” to see what there was to see. 

This suggestion was anxiety producing (what was this place called “the country?”) but wanting to impress Anthony, I slapped on some blue eyeshadow and off we went. 
To this day I have no idea where we were. I know it involved lots of sneezing, acres of pumpkins,countless signs announcing the elusive presence of fresh pies...and a corn maze

My date wasn’t sure what a corn maze was but it appealed to him. 

Having had problems with mazes in Highlights Magazine as a child (I also preferred Goofus to Gallant-- a harbinger of personal conflict to come), the word “maze” conjured feelings of confusion and inadequacy. 

Wanting to appear fun-loving and agreeable, I smiled as Anthony forked over money he’d earned shoveling popcorn at the Loew’s Oriental on 86th Street and in we plunged.
It was very crowded. There were armies of small “country children” gurgling gaily, their hands sticky from country goo as they pushed past my city legs.

I became separated from Anthony almost immediately. Unable to find him, my cries for help were  absorbed by the dry stalks around me and I stumbled about for what I believe to have been several days. 

At one point I heard someone shouting my name but panic already had me in its grip and, as I turned corner after corner, choking on some sort of toxic dust piped in by the farmer to numb his victims, I was unable to answer. 

It soon became a full blown horror movie filmed in slow motion and I have no recollection of how I eventually escaped. 

If my date hadn’t been nearly as strung out as I was, I would have been very angry but it seems that he was having a similar experience somewhere else in the maze.

On the way home, we agreed never again to venture out of the four boroughs (we said four because, at the time,  Staten Island was considered the country) or speak of this to others. 
We'd reached safety.

We ended up at the diner, comforting ourselves with slabs of strawberry cheesecake, the official post- date snack of all Brooklynites and glasses of cold milk which caused, shall we say, "digestive” issues with poor Anthony whose Saturday Night Fever pompadour was already seriously compromised by earlier trauma.

Sadly, it was one of the better dates of that period of my life.
Anthony and I never went out again. If we ran into one another, he with another blue-lidded young lady and me, with another Anthony, we’d nod silently, the unfortunate combo of corn and cheesecake forever in the rear view mirror of our youth. 

I'm pretty sure I saw him in the maze.


  1. This is fantastic, so I'm glad you posted it again. Growing up in CT, I'm very familiar with those signs posted EVERYWHERE this time of year. And yet, I have never been in a corn maze. The idea of one scares the hell out of me too. It's like "Children of the Corn" meets "The Shining" (I'm willing to bet you DID see Jackie-boy in there). No thank you!

  2. It was horrible. Plus, I couldn't breathe...and I, genuinely, have no idea what state I was in at the time...NJ, CT???

  3. Oh my goodness, Susan, this had me laughing out loud from your "any old movie with Tony Randall" comment and it just kept getting better from there.

    Wonderful post! :D

  4. Hey, Super Earthling--thanks so much for dropping by. So glad you enjoyed the post...and wowza, thanks for signing up,too.

    And I stand firm on hte Tony Randall movie thing....have you ever SEEN any of them?? Really unnerving.